Cowboys, One Year Later: No Busts from 2014 Draft


As the saying goes, “Hindsight is always 20/20”. Only 1 year removed, the Dallas Cowboys can definitively say the 2014 Draft didn’t have a single “bust”.

Since the 2015 NFL Draft, we took some time to look at last season’s picks in the NFL Draft. Some of those picks appear to be early successes, others have yet to be determined, while still some can constitute as “failures”. But even those “failures” can’t really be called “busts”, and that should make us all feel optimistic about the latest draft class.

A bust is best described as a severe underachiever who failed to meet the most modest of expectations and did not approach the value associated with the draft position.

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The Cowboys 1st pick, Zack Martin,  was All-Pro his rookie year. That’s about as far from bust as there is. The 2nd and 3rd round picks went to pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence. The jury is still out on him as he looks to make a leap in year two. Anthony Hitchens proved his worth and may have saved the Cowboys’ season in the process. Devin Street hasn’t done much, but it often takes time to develop WRs in the NFL and he will be given every opportunity to carve out a larger role this season.

Which brings us to the seventh round…

Three of the Cowboys’ five 7th round picks, Ahmad Dixon (S), Will Smith (LB), and Terrance Mitchell (CB), are no longer with the team, but that doesn’t automatically make them busts.

Since leaving the Cowboys, Ahmad Dixon has been with the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, while Terrance Mitchell went to the Chicago Bears. Will Smith spent the last calendar year with the Cowboys but was recently released when the Cowboys bulked up the LB corps.

Since they are no longer a part of the franchise, it would be difficult to consider them successful picks, but an unemployed player is considerably different than an employed-elsewhere player, isn’t it? If a player is good enough to play elsewhere, then the pre-draft evaluation of the player clearly had some value.

If history is any indicator (and it usually is), over the next few months and years we will see more players from this draft fail to make the Cowboys’ cut. It’s a natural process in today’s NFL, especially for players drafted in the latter rounds. Losing two players, only months after being drafted, isn’t great, but it ‘s not terrible either. In fact, it happens to the best teams.

"The better the team = the less roster room available for fringe players."

Chicago and Minnesota both finished with poor records last season, so it’s no wonder they played the scavengers in this situation. The Dallas Cowboys also used a whopping five picks in the seventh round. It shouldn’t be surprising two of them didn’t make the cut in 2014. The Cowboys were still batting over .500 with those picks in year one.

What’s important is Terrance Mitchell and Ahmad Dixon both flashed potential before leaving the Dallas Cowboys, and both figure to be contributors in the NFL. How long? That remains to be seen, but what we do know is that they were decent picks – And that’s comforting.

The seventh round is a tricky spot in which to draft. There are far more “busts” than “booms” down there, and the Patriots’ now-famous strategy of, throwing a bunch of picks against the wall to see what sticks, may have some merit.

Terrence Mitchell and Ahmad Dixon were both failures as picks for the Cowboys, but the talent evaluation looked pretty solid. It shows that the player evaluation portion of the Cowboys’ front office knows what it’s doing, at least to a certain degree.

The successful talent evaluation of last season should give comfort to those questioning some of the later round picks the Cowboys made this year. The Cowboys are maximizing picks and making good decisions on some promising players. They aren’t all going to work out, but the process looks solid.

Only a year removed, we can’t even definitively say whether the 2014 Draft was successful or not. Much will depend on Anthony Hitchens’ and DeMarcus Lawrence’s ability to develop. It’s important to keep in mind, this process isn’t just black and white. Three players may not be on the team anymore but that doesn’t mean they were misevaluated or “busts”.

As the Cowboys roster gets better, less and less late-drafted players will make the roster. It’s safe to say at least a couple of the Cowboys’ draft picks won’t make the 53 man roster this season. The thing to keep in mind is the Cowboys are doing very well in talent evaluation and there’s no reason to think the Cowboys will not have the same success with the most recent draft.

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Next: DeMarcus Lawrence's Worth Still in Question